Kyle Froman's Athletes of God Photo Exhibit Will Give You All the Dancer Feels

For dance photographer Kyle Froman, taking a really great photo is like...vacuuming?

Well, sort of. Froman, whose thrilling, behind-the-scenes shots of New York City Ballet dancers are up right now at the 92nd St. Y as part of an exhibition called Athletes of God, admits that he likes to bring order to the chaos. Last night, as part of a talkback about his photographs, he explained that assembling the many parts of a photo—the dancers, their positions, the lighting, the juxtaposition, the unexpected serendipities or change in plans—into a finished product feels much like the joy he gets out of vacuuming. Running a vacuum over a carpet and seeing its even, straight pathways is soothing to Froman.


His method of preparation is equally detailed. He loves to sketch out what he wants a photo to look like first:

Before...

And then make it come to life:

...and after!

A former dancer with NYCB for many years, Froman is also a frequent photographer for DT. In honor of his 92nd St. Y gallery—which is on view through April 6 in the Weill Art Gallery—we thought we'd share some of our favorite shots he's taken for our magazine:

Our June 2015 cover subjects, Ahtoy WonPat-Borja and Daniel Enskat, knew how to up the wow factor.

Tammi Shamblin (DT, December 2015) kept her barre exciting for the young boys in her class—by asking them to show off their biceps.

(They got to warm up their faces, too!)

Gus Solomons jr (DT, December 2016) was a natural in front of the camera for Froman. (No surprise, given his extensive career.) I loved how Froman so perfectly captured his energy and fabulous spirit.

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

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Health & Body
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Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

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Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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